Finding My True Home: The Sacred Heart

Dr. Kathryn Rombs // Metaphysics of Motherhood


June 7  

As a twenty-year-old college student, I was a Protestant, Bible-reading, Jesus-loving young woman. Restless and desperately seeking God’s direction for my life, I told my mother I wanted to go on retreat. That summer she generously bought me a ticket to Paris, from which I was to take a train and then a bus to Taizé, a non-denominational religious community whose chant music I had loved. 

But when I stepped off the bus and walked into the monastery, my heart sank. It was not at all what I had hoped. It was full of rowdy, rough backpackers who seemed like they were more interested in a cheap place to stay than in reverent prayer. Stunned and jetlagged, I made the gutsy decision to turn around. Suitcase still in hand, never having touched the floor, I walked back to the bus stop, gazed at the wide-open terrain before me, and had no idea where I would go next.  

When another bus stopped, I alighted and said to the driver in French, “Do you have any other recommendations for a place to go on retreat?” A strange question for a bus driver. He replied, “Go to Paray-le-Monial and find the Basilica of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.” An even stranger answer to a passenger. He scratched down detailed instructions for a multi-leg route that would take me clear across the country, and I embarked immediately on my pilgrimage to this unknown destination.  

When I arrived in that quaint, medieval town, a spiritual revival was going on—music, singing, and all-night Eucharistic Adoration. I was so comforted to find worship not unlike that of my own faith community in college. I felt at home there. I didn’t know Catholics could pray like this! I naively thought to myself. 

I walked up to the basilica dedicated to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and was stunned beyond belief. This was the birthplace of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Although Protestant, I had attended a Sacred Heart school in New York City for eleven years, from elementary through high school. We had been taught about the foundresses of the Sacred Heart schools: Saints Madeleine, Sophie Barat, and Philippine Duchesne. But in all those years I had never heard of St. Margaret Mary, who first received the visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I had never heard of this town or this basilica. I walked in and gazed up at the stained-glass windows. I was in awe, wondering if the bus driver had been an angel, and how God had led me as though blindfolded to this very spot. It was as if God were saying to me, “I have prepared you for all these years to love my Son, Jesus, in his Sacred Heart. Today, I have brought you home.”

I found a little room at a little bed and breakfast (since there was no retreat house), and during the days I read spiritual books, including St. Margaret Mary’s spiritual biography, which I had found in the basilica bookshop. At night I went to Eucharistic Adoration. Protestant though I was, it was kneeling on those cold, travertine stone floors that I fell in love with Jesus more powerfully than ever before. The words of Margaret Mary pierced my heart: 

I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament when I felt myself wholly penetrated with that Divine Presence, but to such a degree that I lost all thought of myself and of the place where I was, and abandoned myself to this Divine Spirit, yielding up my heart to the power of his love. He made me repose for a long time upon his sacred breast, where he disclosed to me the marvels of his love . . .” 

It was there that I had the life-changing realization that the Eucharist is an access point to a whole new level of relationship with Christ than I had yet experienced. It is the doorway to intimacy with him on a level of which I had never dreamed. There, I sensed an overwhelming awareness of God’s powerful, infinite, personal love for me and for all of humanity. There, I came to believe in God’s providence—if he could lead me across the world and across France to that particular church, then he was the one in whom I would entrust my life’s plans. There, I came to the realization, “I must become Catholic.” There, I was seized with a burning desire: “I must receive the Eucharist.” There, I found in the Eucharist my spiritual home. 

From my new, true home, God girded me for the ambitious spiritual journey of marriage and motherhood that awaited me. 

Proclaim the Genius & Share!
  • Kathryn, one of the most beautiful things about conversion I’ve ever read.! Thank you for sharing this with us!

    • Oh thank you, Karen! I’m so grateful to God for His tender but firm guidance of me to Mother Church! My life as a wife and mother are so blessed because of it!

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